Most common passwords in the UK and how long it would take to crack them

·3-min read
Most common passwords in the UK and how long it would take to crack them
A total of 187,219,153 passwords were leaked in the UK in 2021. Photo: Getty

The most common password used in the UK in 2021 was the very unoriginal "123456", used 571,107 times throughout the year, according to the latest data from NordPass.

It was the most popular password across the world, used 103,170,552 times globally.

It would take a hacker around one second to crack.

"Password" was the second most common password in the UK, used 423,192 times. It came in at number five in the global ranking, used 20,958,297 times.

Some 162,086 Brits were not very creative with their password choice, going for "password1", bringing it to number four on the UK ranking.

Football was a theme in UK password choices, with "liverpool" coming in third place. The team name was 121 in the world ranking — used 934,857 times, it may be the most popular team in the world.

"Liverpool1" was eighth on the UK list, "arsenal" was tenth, "chelsea" was at number 11, and "rangers" was at number 19.

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"Liverpool" was the only password in the UK top 15 that would take a hacker more than one second to crack — taking two seconds.

The word "football" itself was the fourteenth most popular password in the UK, used 70,619 times, and was at number 60 globally, used 1,468,381 times worldwide.

Brits took inspiration from their keyboards, choosing "qwerty" 145,626 times. The word is made up of the first six keys on the top left letter row of a keyboard for Latin script alphabets. Globally it was used 22,317,280 times, the fourth most common password in the world in 2021.

Password trends for 2021 included using your own name, as well as using "onedirection"; the name of the popular boyband made a comeback in several countries after dropping off the 2020 list.

The most popular car-related passwords were "ferrari" and "porsche" and this year "dolphin" ranked number one among animal-related passwords in many countries.

Swear words are quite often used as passwords, with men choosing swear words more often than women.

At the other end of the spectrum, "iloveyou" was used more by women. In the US, 222,287 women chose "iloveyou" as their password compared to 96,785 men.

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Among men choosing music-related passwords, "metallica" was more popular than "slipknot", with the band names being used 88,543, and 75,204 times respectively, according to the research.

A total of 187,219,153 passwords were leaked in the UK in 2021— equivalent to 2.785 per capita.

In the US, almost 1.7 billion passwords were leaked — equivalent to 5.158 per capita.

The experts at NordPass shared their password tips to help keep you safe online:

Use complex passwords

A complex password is one that contains at least 12 characters and a varied combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, the experts said.

You can use a password generator to create complex passwords. A password generator creates random or customised passwords to help users create stronger passwords that provide greater security.

Never reuse passwords

"A single password for multiple accounts is a hacker’s delight," said NordPass. 

"If only one of the accounts is compromised, consider all your other accounts jeopardised."

Regularly update passwords

"Security experts recommend changing passwords every 90 days to keep your accounts secure and bad actors at bay," said NordPass.

Check password strength

The experts advise people to regularly assess their password health. Check whether your passwords are weak, reused, or old and fortify your online security by switching to new, complex passwords.

Use a password manager

Some companies offer password manager features to organise your complex passwords and keep them securely in a single place that only you can access to boost your overall online security.

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